Mary Kay Management

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Motivation in Direct Sales

Mary Kay Cosmetics is not a traditional cosmetics company, as it sells its products directly to consumers through a sales force rather than in retail stores (Case). Each member of the Mary Kay sales force is an independent contractor with the company and works for herself (Case). Mary Kay compensates its beauty consultants in a variety of ways, ranging from commissions, to recognition, to incentive programs such as its VIP car program (Case). As it has expanded, Mary Kay's VIP car program has become a burden, ballooning to 8.5% of sales in 1988 (Case).

In sales, motivation plays an important role in maintaining happy employees and workers. Happy workers "produce more product and better service" (Hahn, 2007). Mary Kay's philosophy is that every person associated with the company lives by the Golden Rule (Case). By treating customers, business associates, and all others with such respect, Mary Kay improves not only the morale of its consultants, but also its public image. When sales people are not treated with respect, they "are more likely to treat customers with disregard and seek unemployment, costing the company great expense" (Hahn, 2007). According to Mary Kay's Sales Group Executive Vice President Barbara Beasley, approximately 70% of its consultants drop out each year, which is the lowest turnover rate in the direct-selling industry (Case). Mary Kay's business depends on its consultants to not only purchase and sell its products, but also recruit new consultants (Case). In retaining its consultants, Mary Kay must recognize their accomplishments. Mary Kay provides prizes to consultants based on the increase in their sales, as well as recognizes its consultants for their progress in recruiting new consultants (Case). Sales people have common needs: the feeling that they control their destinies, flexibility to balance professional and personal lives, and recognition and praise (Hahn, 2007).

According to a...
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